More than 30 years ago, Bob Diamond found an abandoned 19th-century subway tunnel that ran along Atlantic Avenue, between Court and Hicks Streets, in Brooklyn.
Since the 1980s, Diamond has lead tour groups of people from all over the world through the historic tunnel. Then in December, the Transportation Department said the tunnel had to be closed because of safety concerns brought up by the Fire Department.
Now, Diamond is suing the city to either re-open the tunnel, or pony up $2.5 million in damages.
"If they don't want to open the tunnel, they have to pay me for my intellectual property," Diamond told City Room. "I discovered the tunnel and spent 30 years of my life developing and publicizing it into a historical treasure and tourist destination. That is worth money."
A Transportation Department spokesperson said the Fire Department was concerned that the tunnel only has a single access point. A manhole on Atlantic Avenue is the only way to get in or out.
Diamond said the Fire Department has inspected the tunnel several times over the last few decades.
"People come from all over the world, just to see this tunnel," Diamond said. "The day the city closed it, I was supposed to show it to 40 Australian tourists who flew to New York City specifically to see the tunnel."
The 51-year-old known as "Tunnel Bob" said that, in 1986, the city approved $2.6 million to build a formal entrance, but the plan was later scrapped.